HL Deb 04 August 1862 vol 168 cc1187-9

rose, according to notice, to call the attention of the House to several of the Provisions connected with the Thames Embankment, and to suggest further Improvements; also to inquire the Amount of Money expended in the Repair of Blackfriars Bridge during the last Thirty Years, and the present condition of that structure. The noble Lord said he was unwilling, in the thin state of the attendance in the House, to detain their Lordships with any lengthened observations; but the subject had been so little debated in that House, and the measure itself was of so important a character, that he was unwilling to allow the Session to close without calling attention to some points connected with it. Very erroneous impressions prevailed with regard to the magnificence of the object to be attained—quays and fine works of that description were spoken of. But it must be remembered that the embankment was to be carried at the back of very shabby streets, and, instead of a fine façade of buildings rising from the quays, there would be one of the ugliest backgrounds imaginable. If any one wanted to see what the future Thames Embankment would be like, he need only go as far as Milbank. It would be an undoubted advantage to remove from the Strand some portion of the traffic with which it was now flooded, especially the influx coming from Pall Mall and the West End through Trafalgar Square But the scheme contained no provision whatever for bringing this traffic down to the embankment, except by one very awkward approach with a steep gradient, and at right angles to the river If, on the contrary, Duncannon Street were continued by a new thoroughfare crossing Villiers Street and Buckingham Street, there would then be a direct and easy method of approach from the West End. He earnestly hoped Her Majesty's Government would place themselves in communication with the Metropolitan Board of Works, in order that the necessary notices might be given, not only for the construction of this new street, but also for the widening of Parliament Street, in case Parliament in its wisdom should sanction both those measures. He further wished to obtain from the Government some information respecting the condition of Blackfriars Bridge. Having inquired into the subject, he found, that with the exception of a single pier, it was a perfectly sound structure, evincing no decay whatever; and if a moderate expenditure were made on that one weak place, it might stand for any number of years to come. On the repairs and strengthening of that bridge alone a sum of £100,000 had been spent within a comparatively recent period. £264,000 were now required to build a new one in its stead. He thought the Corporation would employ the money much better, and con- fer a far greater benefit on the public, by obtaining possession of South wark Bridge, and making it free of tolls, If they felt at liberty to apply the money in hand to other purposes, there was another improvement which would be of very great importance in connection with the Thames Embankment—namely, the opening of a street from Cannon Street to the Mansion House, which would relieve Cheapside of a large portion of its surplus traffic. To build new bridges with such a scheme as the Thames Embankment in progress was worse than objectionable—it was absurd; because the scour of the river might be increased to such an extent as to render wholly unprofitable the money expended upon those structures.


said, it was not, of course, to be expected that London would ever have quays as fine as those of Paris, Vienna, or Dublin; but they ought to have something more slightly than the mud banks at present exposed at low water. His noble Friend had, however, greatly underrated the embankment scheme. It was true that the embankment at the Blackfriars end was left rather incomplete; and it was intended to revive the Royal Commission, in order that it might consider the most desirable mode of completing the works. With regard to Blackfriars Bridge, it had been impossible, since his noble Friend gave his notice, to communicate with the authorities of the City, who had the entire responsibility for that bridge. He could hardly imagine that the City authorities would desire to spend so large a sum as the new bridge would cost unless it was absolutely necessary; but the matter rested entirely with them, and all he could do was to take care that a communication was made to them.

House adjourned at half-past Eight o'clock, to Thursday next, Two o'clock.